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Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

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Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

The Rules of Procedure establish the internal organisation of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). They also describe the conduct of court proceedings and define the court arrangements.

ACT

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

SUMMARY

The Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) establish the organisation and working of the Court. They also lay down the composition and different formations of the Court.

The Rules of Procedure also cover the legal proceedings which may be brought before the Court. In particular, they establish the different stages of the proceedings and their procedures.

Composition

The CJEU is composed of 27 judges and eight advocates-general appointed by common agreement by Member States for a period of six years. The advocates-general are responsible for presenting, with complete impartiality and independence, legal opinions on the cases brought before them.

Moreover, the judges elect one of their number as President of the CJEU for a term of three years. The role of the President is to direct the judicial business of the Court and to preside at hearings and deliberations of the largest formations of the Court.

The Court must also appoint a Registrar for a term of six years. The Registrar is the Secretary-General of the institution.

Formations of the Court

The Court sits in the following formations:

  • the full court, composed of all the judges. The full court is called when the Court deems that a case is of exceptional importance, or when the Court must rule on the resignation of the European Ombudsman, a member of the Commission or a member of the Court of Auditors;
  • the Grand Chamber, composed of 13 judges. The Court sits in a Grand Chamber at the request of a Member State or an institution, or for particularly complex or important cases;
  • the chambers, composed of five or three judges for other cases.

Proceedings brought before the Court of Justice

Proceedings brought before the CJEU have several phases.

Firstly, cases have a written part. Cases must be referred to the CJEU by an application addressed to the registrar. After the opposing party has been served the application, they have one month to lodge a defence. In order to supplement their arguments, the applicant then has the right to lodge a reply, and subsequently the defendant has the right to lodge a rejoinder.

Once the written proceedings are concluded, the CJEU decides whether the case requires measures of inquiry. These measures may include:

  • the personal appearance of the parties;
  • a request for information and production of documents;
  • oral testimony;
  • the commissioning of an expert’s report;
  • an inspection of the place or thing in question.

The proceedings then have an oral part. In particular, this part includes a hearing by the CJEU of the agents, lawyers and, if necessary, witnesses and experts, and also the reading of the advocate-general’s opinions.

Cases are presented in a public hearing, before the formation of the Court and the Advocate-General. Member States and the European institutions are represented by an agent appointed for each case. Other parties must be represented by a lawyer.

Accelerated procedure

In exceptional cases, the CJEU may decide to submit an extremely urgent case to an accelerated procedure. This type of procedure allows delays to be reduced to a minimum and a case to be accorded absolute priority.

Other procedures

The Rules of Procedure also define specific procedures for certain types of cases, in particular:

  • the reference for a preliminary ruling , where the CJEU is asked to rule on issues relating to the interpretation or validity of provisions in the Treaties;
  • appeals against decisions of the General Court. Appeals brought before the CJEU are therefore limited to questions of law;
  • a review of a decision by the General Court. A review is proposed by the first advocate-general where there is a serious risk to the unity or consistency of European Union law. The CJEU then decides whether or not it is appropriate to review the decision.

Costs of proceedings

Proceedings brought before the Court of Justice are free of charge. However, the costs of lawyers authorised to practise before the Court are not the responsibility of the CJEU.

If a party finds it is unable to meet these costs, it may apply to receive legal aid. Applications must be accompanied by all the necessary information required to establish that the applicant is in need.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

1.9.1991

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OJ L 176, 4.7.1991

The successive amendments and corrections to the Rules of Procedure have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is for reference only.

See also

Last updated: 14.10.2011

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